One of the greatest strengths of memes as a medium is their versatility, their ability to comment on even the most specific situations. And, because this is the internet, they can always find an audience who’ll relate. This week, an infographic about decibel levels became the extremely online way to say that something is just too damn loud.
The graphic, apparently taken from Chartvalley.com, ranks sounds from “breathing” at 30db to “loudest sound possible” at 194db. It’s that last entry that meme community replacing, posting their own interpretations of what the loudest sound possible might be.
The best examples all refer to small sounds that become painfully loud in the wrong context, like when you’re at a movie theater or in the kitchen at night. Just when you’re trying to move silently, here comes 194db of awkwardness:
Another situation where one might want to be quiet, and any sound can feel like the loudest in the world, is while watching porn with headphones plugged in. At least, you thought your headphones were plugged in.
Video games, and the YouTubers who love them, are another popular target of the sound levels meme. Why do they have to be so loud?! Valve’s games, in particular, come with a startlingly loud intro sound.
But not as loud as kids screaming about Roblox and Minecraft:
This meme has extremely high mainstream potential. The format is easy to work with, and all you need to bring to the table is an idea about something upsettingly loud.
Like the sound test at a movie theater:
Or the loudest fart on record:
And if you don’t have something loud, a variation has popped up that makes fun of extremely quiet things, adding a 0-10db level to the chart:
This meme isn’t the first to use a decibel meter as an exploitable format—Know Your Meme cites two older examples—but it does seem to be the funniest and most popular to date. At least, it’s the version with the most… volume.